09/03/2012 08:27 am ET | Updated Sep 05, 2012

Ripley's Believe It Or Not! 'Download The Weird' Hits Bookstores

The sluggish economy hasn't been good for industries like construction or manufacturing, but bad times are actually good for weirdness.

So says Edward Meyer, the head archivist for Ripley's Entertainment, who is in charge of purchasing the bizarre items featured in Ripley museums -- otherwise known as "Odditoriums" -- around the world.

"We're recession-proof," Meyer told the Huffington Post. "We're actually helped by it. People are always looking for a laugh."

You'd think it would be unbelievably hard to amaze Meyer, a guy whose office in Pensacola, Fla., includes a real shrunken head, a giant spider made of scissors, and a letter from a guy in Hong Kong who sent him his belly button lint.

But it still happens, he insists, as he discovered while working on the latest Ripley book, "Download The Weird."


Unbelieveable But True Images From Ripley's

"It's the most amazing art I've ever seen," Meyer said.

For various fringe entertainers, like Liu Fei of China has been pulling snakes through his nose for 30 years, there can be no professional honor higher than earning a spot in a Ripley's book


Another unbelievable person Meyer met while working on the newest book was Maria Jose Cristerna, a 35-year-old former attorney from Guadalajara who, turned herself into he "Mexican Vampire Woman" thanks to piercings, tattoos and titanium horns embedded in her skull.

"You look at her and you wouldn't expect her to be the wonderful, nice, generous person that she is," Meyer admitted. "She decided to change her look to raise money for a woman's shelter. How and why she decided to put horns in her head, I'm not sure.

Ripley's shelled out a lot of bread for a portrait of Albert Einstein made from burnt toast by British artist Adam Shelton that will be featured in an upcoming touring exhibtion, "The Science Of Ripley's Believe It Or Not!"

The new book has sections that can be scanned by smartphones to open up digital content -- first for Ripley's -- yet, one thing remains consistent.

"Anything that we put in a book or on display has to be true," he said. "There also has to be a 'wow factor.' We want the whole family to be amazed."


Vampire Woman Maria Jose Cristerna